Breaking news: HMP eligible for historic protection!
The goals of our affinity group extend beyond simply saving the Harvey Milk Plaza from demolition and replacement. We embrace refreshing all surfaces and improving the plaza and related green belt plus making the Milk memorial truly memorable. We support the LGBTQ Veterans in their quest to designate the area near Collingwood as a memorial. We recognize the importance of protecting and replenishing the extensive landscaping and natural drainage at the stepped terraces known as Harvey's Garden. We support SFMTA's ADA Compliance project for the station, plaza, and related Market St. bus stops.
When the Castro MUNI METRO subway station opened in 1980, it featured a transit plaza that has successfully served thousands of commuters and visitors to the Castro for 40 years. In 1985, the plaza was dedicated to Harvey Milk, who was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the US and assassinated in 1978.
A group calling itself Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza hopes to demolish the present transit plaza and landscaping and to cover them over with paving! FHMP are in the process of submitting plans to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, SF Department of Public Works, and the SF Arts Commission for comments and approval. We hope to counter this potentially destructive act with reason: a noble and significant memorial to Harvey Milk can easily be accomplished within the boundaries of the present plaza.
The SF Planning Department has released a Phase I California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) report that concluded Harvey Milk Plaza is eligible for historic preservation! Phase II, environmental impact report is pending.
SAVE THE PLAZA AND MAKE IT BETTER!
In the 35 years Harvey Milk Plaza has existed, we have witnessed the loss of so many businesses and institutions that gave the Castro its LGBT character: the Patio Cafe, All American Boy, The Elephant Walk, Worn Out West, The Center for Living, (insert your favorite here)... if FHMP have their way, Harvey Milk Plaza will join them. And now the pandemic has made the Castro even more vulnerable! Spending $10 million to demolish & replace the plaza and greenbelt seems socially irresponsible.
Don't send the plaza to landfill!
How many people have made their first pilgrimage to gay mecca and arrived at the Castro station, walked out into the plaza past the Harvey Milk Memorial and climbed the broad stairs to witness Twin Peaks Bar and the iconic Castro Theater sign? To see Gilbert Baker's glorious rainbow flag flying above and to know they were "home"? We may not know how much we'll miss it until it is demolished and paved!
Want to help?
Join our Facebook page and keep informed about all news related to the plaza; comment and attend neighborhood and city agency meetings when the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza plans are scheduled for review.
To become an Advocate for Harvey Milk Plaza
go to our facebook page:
SFMTA planned changes to HM plaza
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has an ADA Compliance project that will add an elevator on the south side of the station that will provide access to Market St. bus stops, the station mezzanine, and platform levels.
The bus stop sidewalks at Market Street will be widened and sidewalk paving will be adjusted to lessen the cross slope in areas. Drainage issues will be corrected. SFMTA has delayed its ADA Compliance project for over 2 years to allow for FHMP's design process. Further delays should not be tolerated!
Let SFMTA know how you feel!
Tess Kavanagh (Tess.Kavanagh@sfmta.com, 415.701.4212)
IDEAS TO IMPROVE THE PLAZA
SFMTA has prepared plans indicating all the surfaces available for artwork that could make the Harvey Milk memorial worthy of the slain SF Supervisor. The Castro transit plaza was dedicated to him in 1985 by the Friends of Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club (not to be confused with the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza - a new group that uses the same name). For 21 years, the memorial only consisted of a bronze dedication plaque. In 2006 three panels of photographs were attached to a steel fence installed by MUNI to discourage the homeless.
There are many possibilities to make it better!
At street level, SFMTA has proposed removing one bay of the concrete serpentine wall along Market Street to create a space for a Memorial Wall dedicated to those felled by AIDS. At plaza level, a large wall can feature a mural, a living wall, or a water wall. The station mezzanine could be free of advertising and feature Milk photographs and art. A bust or statue of Harvey Milk could make a dramatic statement.
A Castro LGBTQ Cultural District to preserve buildings and sites that are significant in our history was recently approved by the SF Board of Supervisors. How about making the plaza bridge a protected historic site? It features Harvey's name in large letters and one of its columns bears the memorial plaque installed when Dianne Feinstein, Harry Britt, and John Molinari dedicated the plaza in Milk's name in 1985!
If SFMTA decides that a cover over the plaza area and a roll down closure grille are now necessary (as shown in Perkins Eastman's submitted plans), it should be transparent to allow views of the 1925 old Bank of America beaux arts facade and views through to Collingwood for security purposes.
The landscaped terraces that climb west to Collingwood can use some loving attention. The 5 palm trees at the top could be dedicated to the gay men and women who served in five branches of the armed forces as The LGBTQ Veterans Grove. Harvey was in the navy and Gilbert Baker the army.
Please consider signing an initiative to support the creation of the nation's first LGBTQ Veterans Grove and Harvey's Garden - A Watershed Garden.
Below are more ideas for artwork in the station
at mezzanine and platform level.
Recreation of a mural by Johanna Poethig which was dedicated to Harvey Milk and the first AIDS victims in 1988. It was painted over when the HM Recreational Center was remodeled.
CASTRO NEXTDOOR PLAZA PREFERENCES POLL
In January 2018, 152 residents of the Castro neighborhood responded to a poll posted on the Nextdoor website. It asked what they would and wouldn't like to see happen to the Harvey Milk Plaza. 67% wanted an efficient connection between the MuniMetro station and street level transportation. 46% wanted green space. Only 33% wanted a new gathering space (FHMP's primary reason for covering over the plaza)! Only 21.7% wanted the plaza to be a tourist destination! (another FHMP goal).